This month Firefox turned five. The popular open source web browser also hit a new landmark in its popularity. According to web analyst Net Applications, which measures web browser usage by monitoring more than 40 000 websites, one-in-four web users is now using Firefox to surf the web.
Reaching 25% market share is not completely surprising – Firefox has been climbing steadily over the past couple of years – but it has achieved this in just the five years since it was released in November 2004 in a highly competitive market.
At the start of the year Firefox had a 22% market share, well behind Internet Explorer’s 70% market share. By October Internet Explorer’s market share was down by almost 5% at 64.6%. Firefox has picked up almost 3% of that drop while Google’s Chrome has gained almost 2%. Apple’s Safari also ticked up another percent, to hover around 4.5%.
Most of Internet Explorer’s losses are at the hands of its Internet Explorer 6 browser which held just 23% share at the end of October. In January Internet Explorer 6 held a 32.7% share of the market.
Interestingly, despite widespread calls for Internet Explorer 6 to be scrapped because of its problematic rendering habits, IE6 remains resolutely stable. Although it lost close on 10% share over the nine months from January to October this year, this is nothing in comparison with Internet Explorer 7’s fleeting popularity. In January IE7 had a 35.9% share of the market, slightly more than IE6. By October, however, it had lost half of that and was right down to just 18%. Most of that loss was presumably picked up by Internet Explorer 8 which climbed from just under 1% market share in January to 18% by October.
Asa Dotzler, Mozilla’s director of community development, said in an interview [http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9140819/1_in_4_now_use_Firefox_to_surf_the_Web?taxonomyId=18] earlier this week that before they “launched Firefox 1.0, the people on the team … said that if we could get to 5%, we would stay alive and stay meaningful. If you don’t get to 5%, you don’t have a seat at the table.” With that target reached fairly quickly the Firefox developers set their sights on bigger things.
Earlier this month, in an article [http://blog.lizardwrangler.com/2009/11/09/firefox-turns-5/] celebrating the fifth birthday of Firefox, Mitchell Baker, chairman of the Mozilla Foundation, said that the fact that Firefox had hit the 25% mark was significant. “The idea that a non-profit, public benefit organization like Mozilla can have such an impact on keeping the Internet open, participatory, and innovative still surprises people, but it’s no longer seen as naive and impossible.”
Firefox market share – discussion